In some ways I’m actually surprised that it took three years, but Al Jazeera America is shutting down. The Washington Post has the top line, but what’s really worth noting here is the efforts they go to in order to paint the network as some sort of noble, non-partisan endeavor. (Emphasis mine)
Al Jazeera America, the low-rated cable news network that sought to take on Fox News and CNN, will shut down operations at the end of April, less than three years after going on the air, the network told its staff Wednesday in a surprise move…
AJA hoped to be a straightforward, non-partisan alternative to other news channels and was often praised by news analysts for the thoroughness and objectivity of its reporting. It hired a number of TV news veterans as program hosts and managers, including people from NBC, CNN and Fox News.
The article goes on to point out various financial woes the channel ran into and manages a single sentence where they reference “a lawsuit” over charges of sexism and anti-Semitism in the workplace. Of course, it was a lot more than that. In fact, the very same newspaper actually went into a bit more detail last year, describing one of their managers as having allegedly engaged in discriminatory conduct toward women and made offensive remarks about Israel and the United States.
The Washington Times has a bit longer memory on the subject, but we don’t even need to go that far afield to find examples of the “problems” that cropped up with AJAM. At the risk of quoting myself, I covered some of their more curious newsroom policies last January. This was one deparmental memo they put out advising their staff to not use certain inflammatory words when referring to terrorists.
“All: We manage our words carefully around here,” the network’s head of output wrote to staff at the Doha-based news channel’s New York and Washington, D.C. newsrooms. “So I’d like to bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up.”
In an email obtained by National Review Online, van Meek warned the network’s journalists against the use of terms including “terrorist,” “militant,” “Islamist” and “jihad.”
“One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter,” the Al Jazeera executive wrote.
The word “extremist” was labeled off-limits. “Avoid characterizing people,” van Meek said. “Often their actions do the work for the viewer.”
“Do not use,” van Meek’s said of the term “Islamist.” He described it as “a simplistic label.”
As I mentioned at the time, I was invited to go on their news shows a couple of times but I turned them down. Everyone else is free to go where they like but I simply wasn’t comfortable showing up there. And as to why they failed, maybe they should have considered a different name than “Al Jazeera” to begin with if they wanted to appeal to an American audience. Sure, some might blame their association with Al Gore for their eventual downfall, but since he cashed in to the tune of millions of dollars when he sold them Current TV I suppose he got the last laugh in the end.
Exit question: Do any of you actually get this channel on your local cable networks? We don’t. I’m not even sure where one would watch it if you wanted to, and judging by their ratings I doubt many other people did either.